In fairness, Paul, there is more here than I can unpack at the moment. That we have a minor disagreement over the so-called line of separation between freedom of religion and the obligations of a constitutional republic puts us in the mainstream of the American populace.

As to what I understand to be your point that the Federal government is supreme over the States that supremacy exists only in a few select and delineated powers. All other powers are the purview of the individual States or to the People as per the Tenth Amendment.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states,, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

When the Supreme Court correctly overturned Roe v Wade the justices did not ban abortion nationwide, they merely returned the issue to the individual States where it belonged in the first place per the 10th Amendment. Based on her published remarks prior to her death even as progressive a jurist as Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have most probably agreed with the majority.

Expand full comment
Jul 7, 2023·edited Jul 7, 2023Author

Indeed, this is a lot to unpack and it will take honest Americans from all sides of all aisles, to do the hard work of removing hyper-partisanship from our political landscape. There will always be the minority who prefer extreme measures based on an absence of truth who seek power for the sake of power. There was a time in our nation when extremes lived in the margins. This is no longer so. No one denies that there is extremism on both sides of the aisle. The truth is that the left extremists in congress are marginalized by their part and little to nothing ever gets out of committee. The MAGA movement though is devoid of American principles and controls the party. It will be up to principled conservatives to take back the party. This is an effort that still remains impotent against MAGA… yet they continue to still vote Republican. Our SCOTUS is responsible for codifying the legislation by Congress which these days, amounts primarily to enabling religious and elite wealth over our actual founding principles.

It will require honest discussions like you and I have had great success with as old friends. Too bad that we can’t get America to behave in a similar fashion.

Cheers Doc and enjoy every moment of the weekend,


P.s Your comments about Ginsburg… her great friendship with Scalia enabled some of the best judicial conversation, to ever grace the halls of the Supreme Court, despite their differences.

Expand full comment

You raise an interesting question/concept. To what degree does one's religious beliefs/doctrines influence one's world view and decision-making process? My position is that religious beliefs should influence one's decision-making otherwise that religion is irrelevant and has no intrinsic value to the individual.

One has to exercise due caution in criticizing the religious beliefs of government officials otherwise one risks running afoul of Article VI of the Constitution which says in part "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Numerous SCOTUS rulings (with many pre-dating the Court's current composition) have sided with churches and religious bodies in resolving conflicts over alleged civil rights violations.

The usual conflict occurs at the intersection of the "Free Exercise" clause and the "Establishment" clause of the First Amendment. This website gives a summary of the various SCOTUS rulings on these issues::


The most recent ruling involved a postal worker, Gerald Groff, and the USPS with the Court ruling in favor of Mr. Groff by a unanimous 9-0 margin.

Expand full comment

It’s something we must reestablish as Americans since this court is destroying the guardrails established by 247 years of precedence. I was more reflective until the abortion decision and the recent on siding with religion over constitutional rights.

Then there is the matter of Madison’s scholarship regarding states rights subservient to federal authority. This trend flies directly in the face of one of Madison’s most prescient concerns and the primary reason that the Articles of Confederation failed.

Expand full comment

What needs to be reestablished? You raise so many different points in your most recent reply I do not know to which one you are referring that needs to be reestablished.

You do realize that freedom of religion is a constitutional right?

BTW, as an aside, legal precedent or stare decisis to use the Latin terminology is not inviolate otherwise Dred Scott would still be the law of the land. Surely you not suggesting something that extreme.

Expand full comment

This is an important discussion and “reestablishment” refers to your points which I don’t entire concur with regarding the line between religion and our secular state. In fact, it is not legitimate challengers like me that are currently critical of AJs that are precisely imposing their religious beliefs on an entire nation. You may recall that it was AJ Alito who based his writing for the majority opinion regarding abortion. Much of his ruling was based on the religious doctrine on his mid 17th century English interpretation of Christianity. The Judge in question is most famous or rather infamous for legalizing marital rape and laying the legal foundation for burning Salem’s witches at the stake. If this ruling doesn’t cross the line regarding “separation of church and state,” nothing does. Also, to your point regarding, “My position is that religious beliefs should influence one's decision-making otherwise that religion is irrelevant and has no intrinsic value to the individual” , what is your position should an atheist or agnostic sit on the bench?

We must remember here and for this discussion, that Scottish Enlightenment, in colonial times was considered radical progressive thought. In fact, the Father of our Constitution and POTUS, had opportunity to attend any college he wished, especially as common at the time, Harvard. Instead, he chose the College of New Jersey, now Princeton. It was at the College of New Jersey, the hotbed of revolutionary thinking and deeply embedded in the Scottish Enlightenment that he both acknowledged religious freedom but concurrently, the separation of church and state. Between his college education at a radically progressive institution of higher learning and his globally recognized scholarship on Ancient and Modern confederacies, he came to his explicit warnings about the role of religion as advocated for by the state. This coupled with his admonitions against States with more or equivalent power with the Federal Government that have kept us safe and seen us through many challenges, including the Civil War grounded in the narratives of religious doctrine on both sides. The Confederacy’s version was the mid-19th century version of Christian Nationalism, which in most respects are closely parallels the same Christian Nationalist narrative of the MAGA crowd. All fears for our still relatively nascent republic, are well grounded in the worst fears of our founders, especially Madison’s, Washington’s and Jefferson’s. We probably should pay far more attention to these remarkable founders. They alone knew the intent of our new republic. AJ Clarence Thomas’ actions betray a failure to be a strict “originalist” interpreter of our Constitution, as he claims to be. Along with Gorsuch’s, Alito’s, Comey Barrett’s, Kavanaugh and now CJ John Roberts disgraceful refutation of our founder’s intentions, we can now see with the naked eye that not one of them give a damn about our founding principles. They literally have elevated select religious beliefs to supremacy over that of our true republic.

To sum things up my friend, I very much appreciated your well-informed debate. To bring this full circle to where this long response began, it’s now time to reestablish a less threatening Separation interpretation of our founders true intentions, not the bought and paid for interpretations of the current SCOTUS.



Expand full comment

It is encouraging to know that the state of our Constitution is strong: a bane to tyrants and a bulwark against fools and idiots.

Expand full comment

We agree my friend. I do though have serious concerns about this SCOTUS that is undermining the Father of our Constitution’s remarkable scholarship. Time will tell if it survives the Catholicism of the 6 right wing Justices.

As a scholar, you be concerned that religious beliefs are trumping civil rights and legal precedence.

Like you, I have a deep respect for serious religious beliefs. Still, no one has a right to impose theirs on any other American.

Expand full comment